"Spoiler" candidates and "protest" votes: Sanders' evolution
This blog entry is partly to demonstrate that Sander's evolution as to for newer party candidates happened long before this primary and partly to amplify and correct some of my own prior posts (replies) on this subject. (And, yes, I do know that, for many, this entry is TLTR, but the subject still seems to be so controversial on this board, more than two months after Bernie endorsed Hillary.)
Sanders actually rose politically thanks to what some would call protest votes.
"My own preference would have been, and I would have rather have seen, Jesse Jackson run independently, third-party, outside of the Democratic Party," Sanders said at the time.
"Essentially, it's my view that the leadership of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are tied to big-money interests and that neither of these parties will ever represent the people in this country that are demanding the real changes that have to take place," he said.
While Sanders' election history has a staggering number of both losses and wins, as a mayoral candidate, Sanders was unbeatable. Initially, he won a recount against a five-term Democratic incumbent by only ten votes. At one point, the Democratic and Republican Parties of Vermont agreed to back the same candidate, Democrat Paul Lafayette. Sanders defeated him, anyway. Bernie decided not to run for re-election in 1989, but he did run for the U.S. House of Representatives from Vermont's at large district. (Later, much was made of an alleged deal Bernie supposedly made with the N.R.A. when he ran for Congress for the first time this time. Whether or not that was so, the NRA consistently rated him F or D- or D.) He began his first term in January 1991. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_history_of_Bernie_Sanders; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernie_Sanders#Mayor_of_Burlington; https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-the-nra-helped-put-bernie-sa... http://www.ontheissues.org/Domestic/Bernie_Sanders_Gun_Control.htm
Bernie – out of office for the first time in eight years – went to the Kennedy School at Harvard for six months and came back with a new relationship with the state’s Democrats. The Vermont Democratic Party leadership has allowed no authorized candidate to run against Bernie in 1990 (or since) and in return, Bernie has repeatedly blocked third party building. His closet party, the Democrats, are very worried about a left 3rd party forming in Vermont. In the last two elections, Sanders has prevented Progressives in his machine from running against Howard Dean, our conservative Democratic Governor who was ahead of Gingrich in the attack on welfare.”
“The unauthorized Democratic candidate in 1990, Delores Sandoval, an African American faculty member at the University of Vermont, was amazed that the official party treated her as a nonperson and Bernie kept outflanking her to her right. She opposed the Gulf build-up, Bernie supported it. She supported decriminalization of drug use and Bernie defended the war on drugs, and so on…”
“After being safely elected in November of 1990, Bernie continued to support the buildup while seeking membership in the Democratic Congressional Caucus – with the enthusiastic support of the Vermont Democratic Party leadership. But, the national Democratic Party blew him off, so he finally voted against the war and returned home – and as the war began – belatedly claimed to be the leader of the anti-war movement in Vermont.” “Since 1991 the Democrats have given Bernie membership in their Congressional Caucus. Reciprocally, Bernie has become an ardent imperialist. Sanders endorsed Clinton in 1992 and 1996.
In 1992 he described Clinton as the ‘lesser of evils,’ (a justification he used to denounce when he was what the local press called an ‘avowed socialist’).
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/21/bernie-out-of-the-closet-sanders-... Despite what counterpunch claims, the deal with the Vermont Democratic Party could have been the cause of Bernie's seeming change of heart toward Democrats or could have been only correlation.I am not saying either way because I don't know either way.
When Bernie began serving as a U.S. Representative, he joined the Democratic Caucus and also founded what was then titled the House Progressive Caucus, which he chaired for the first eight years of its existence. As the counterpunch article quoted above states, Sanders then said grudgingly that he would be voting for Clinton-Gore, a ticket of two founding members of the Democratic Leadership Council. In 1992, Clinton was running on, among other things, ending "welfare as we know it." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1992 Sanders could have backed some newer party candidates running to the left of Clinton, but did not.
During Clinton's first term, Bernie voted against several now infamous Clinton initiatives, such as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which did end welfare as it was then known. (Bernie voted nay on both the bill and the conference report. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/104-1996/h331 https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/104-1996/h383) However, Sanders campaigned for Clinton in Vermont in 1996.
By 1996 he gave Clinton an unqualified endorsement. He has been a consistent ‘Friend of Bill’s’ from since 1992. One student I know worked on the Clinton Campaign in 1996 and all across Vermont, Bernie was on the stage with the rest of the Vermont Democratic Party Leadership, while the unauthorized Democratic candidate for his Congressional seat was kept out in the audience.”
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/21/bernie-out-of-the-closet-sanders-... Not only did Sanders endorse and campaign for Clinton in 1996, but, according to Nader, Sanders also asked Nader to stay out of the 1996 Presidential race.
....Sanders explained his endorsement of Clinton on grounds that his top priority was to prevent a Republican takeover of the White House. The incumbent president is "clearly preferable" to Bob Dole on a host of issues, the congressman argued then. Sanders further maintained that Nader was not a viable contender and could expect to get "at most 2 or 3 percent of the vote nationally."
In other words, in 1996, Sanders was saying the same kinds of things about Bill Clinton v. Bob Dole, as he is now saying about Hillary Clinton v. Donald Trump. In 2000, the Democratic ticket was Gore-Lieberman, again two founding members of the Democratic Leadership Council and again, Sanders supported the Democratic ticket, not Nader. Indeed, Sanders has shunned Nader since 2000 at the latest. (Nader nonetheless defends Sanders' decisions to run as a Democrat and to refrain from a independent challenge to Hillary.) In 2004, Sanders supported Kerry, not Nader or Cobb or other leftist candidates. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-01-07/nader-sanders-is-great-bu... http://bluenationreview.com/busted-bernie-disqualifies-hillary-but-suppo...
It all meant that when Vermont’s independent U.S. senator, Jim Jeffords, decided to retire in 2005, there was no question whom the (Democratic) party would recruit to retain the seat. They turned to another independent they now viewed as a de facto Democrat — Sanders.
“He had a fairly consistent voting record in the House, which did more to define him as Democrat than anything else,” said a former official with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment on internal discussions. “There was a comfort level that he was a Democrat.” For his part, Sanders endorsed the Democratic candidate for his House seat. He also had a conversation with a young newer-party progressive who had been thinking, as Sanders had decades before, of mounting a challenge from the outside.
“Between some of the feedback from Sanders as well as others, it appeared I was not yet broadly enough supported to make the run,” said David Zuckerman, now a Vermont state senator campaigning for Sanders. Zuckerman describes Sanders as a political mentor for blazing a political trail where one could be both an ardent progressive and a loyal Democrat. “No doubt had I received his endorsement it would have been more likely that I would have run.”
Senators Obama and Kennedy campaigned for Sanders in Vermont. (This may have been more to get Obama known nationally than to help Sanders, but whatever: It happened.) As a Senator, Sanders continued to caucus with the House Progressive Caucus, now the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the only Senator so to do. He also caucused with the Senate Democratic Caucus and made a deal with Senate Democrats.
Sanders entered the race for the U.S. Senate on April 21, 2005, after Senator Jim Jeffords announced that he would not seek a fourth term. Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, endorsed Sanders, a critical move as it meant that no Democrat running against Sanders could expect to receive financial help from the party. Sanders was also endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Democratic National Committee chairman and former Vermont governor Howard Dean. Dean said in May 2005 that he considered Sanders an ally who "votes with the Democrats 98% of the time". Then-Senator Barack Obama also campaigned for Sanders in Vermont in March 2006. Sanders entered into an agreement with the Democratic Party, much as he had as a congressman, to be listed in their primary but to decline the nomination should he win, which he did.
As an independent, Sanders worked out a deal with the Senate Democratic leadership in which he agreed to vote with the Democrats on all procedural matters, except with permission from Democratic whip Dick Durbin (a request that is rarely made or granted). In return, he was allowed to keep his seniority and received the committee seats that would have been available to him as a Democrat; in 2013–14, he was chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs (during the Veterans Health Administration scandal). Sanders was free to vote as he pleased on policy matters, but almost always voted with the Democrats
Again, I mention this mostly because others have raised the issue of Bernie's deals with Democrats. I have no idea if his deals with Democrats contribute to his endorsing Democrats and I will not speculate. Moreover, it may not be either-or: He could genuinely believe that supporting Democrats is the best course for the country, but he is not averse to making the best deal for himself when promising to support Democrats or to vote with the Democratic Caucus.
In 2008, Sanders campaigned for Obama. In 2010 and 2011, many of us hoped that Sanders would either challenge Obama in a Democratic primary or run for President as an indie.
... But Sanders is adamant he will not run, even though he is harshly critical of Barack Obama. Sanders does not want to become a 2012 version of Ralph Nader, whose 2000 campaign is blamed by some for robbing Al Gore of a vital few percent and paving the way for George Bush. Walking to the Senate to vote, Sanders strides past other Senators and attracts a mini-gaggle of reporters.
But, he explains, he is not interested in the White House. "I would likely end up causing a right-wing extremist to be president of the United States. That is not something I would be happy to do," he said. Then he added for emphasis: "It would likely be a futile and losing campaign. That would not be too smart."
In 2014, as Sanders was contemplating a run for POTUS, New York Magazine interviewed him:
Soon we are discussing a major question in the would-be Bernie campaign: Would he run on a third-party ticket or as a Democrat? The choice seems obvious. Not even Ross Perot could afford to launch a meaningful third-party national campaign these days. Beyond that, you risk what Sanders calls “the Ralph Nader dilemma.”
If there’s one thing that really bugs Bernie, it is the specter of Nader, who earlier this year sent a bizarre “open letter” to the Burlington Free Press whining about how Sanders won’t return his calls. Discounting the argument that the two-party system might be a big part of the status quo he so deplores, Sanders slaps down his soup spoon.
“Do you remember Florida?” Sanders half-shouts. “I won’t play the spoiler.”
In July of 2015 (and every other time I saw him asked), Bernie said he would not break his promise to support Hillary, if she won the primary. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-independent_us_55ba86...
Exactly one year before Election Day—on Nov. 8, 2015—Bernie Sanders was asked whether his agreement with Hillary Clinton on basic issues outweighed the conflicts that he proclaimed at every campaign appearance.
“And by the way, on her worst day, Hillary Clinton will be an infinitely better candidate and President than the Republican candidate on his best day.”
Jill Stein reached out to Sanders more than once. AFAIK, he did not reply to her. http://www.democracynow.org/2016/6/9/jill_stein_to_bernie_sanders_run http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2016/07/09/jill-stein-to-bernie-you-...
As a personal point, I have been on Bernie's donor email list for quite some time. Not once did he hint in any email I received that he would do anything but win the primary or, if he lost, negotiate for the best Democratic Party platform he could possibly get.
In light of all the above, claims that Bernie was beaten and/or threatened to make him endorse Hillary seem unrealistic. On July 12, 2016 and at the 2016 Democratic National Convention near the end of July, he did what he has done and espoused since 1996 and what he repeatedly said he would do in this year. And, as I have stated in prior replies, all the above aside, men in suits are covered from their collars to the soles of their shoes. No one hired to "muscle" Bernie would have left marks on Bernie's face to fuel speculation that Hillary or the DNC had a 75 year-old progressive United States Senator beaten to get his support.
If beating seems unlikely, was Bernie threatened to do what he has preached and done since 1996? I don't know, but I doubt it. If anything, he may have made assurances and gotten agreements about his speech, the platform, his role in the convention, etc. before July 12--a negotiation.
Much of the above info has been out there for years. So, I don't think his endorsing the 2016 Democratic nominee, as he has preached and done since 1996 constitutes a betrayal on that score to my thinking.
Do I love it? Not really, but shame on me for not doing this research in May 2014, rather than now. If I had, would I have still backed Sanders as generously and avidly--assuming he was always trying his best to win the primary? Most likely. In any event, at this point, the burden of proof is on people asserting either that (a) Bernie was threatened and/or beaten to make him support Hillary Clinton for President in 2016--as he did Bill Clinton in 1996 and every Democratic Presidential nominee since; or that (b) Bernie betrayed him, her, them or us.
Most of all, does any of this much matter at this juncture? If you plan to vote for Hillary, for the love of heaven, let it be because of you and not because of Bernie. If you want to vote for those left of Democrats, great: I will walk or run in that direction with you. Either way, Bernie's motives should not be the focus: Election Day is only a month and a half away.